Man and woman colleagues sit in a modern office collaborating on work, a laptop in front of them.
With the right information, a job description can be compelling, clear and straightforward, and will help attract new talent and build your company’s in-house expertise. — Getty Images/shapecharge

Job descriptions are the bedrock of your hiring strategy. A job description informs the job ad as well as the expectations for a new hire that other team members can use. Job descriptions inform performance appraisals, the collaboration between colleagues and employee retention. For these reasons, it’s crucial to spend time on your job descriptions to make sure they’re complete.

A great job description should be compelling, clear and straightforward. Here are five key elements that can help your job description attract new talent and build your company’s in-house expertise.

[Read more: Looking to Hire Fresh Talent? The Key Is an Engaging Job Description]

Clear headline

Job descriptions start with a headline that identifies the job title. Internally, this job title should reflect the level of expertise needed (E.g., “Senior Manager” vs. “Chief Marketing Officer”) so your roles are clearly defined. Externally, some companies use a phrase in addition to a job title. This phrase includes a few keywords in addition to the open role — for example, “Sales Director at Fast-Growing E-Commerce Startup.”

It’s important to find the right balance of excitement and clarity. Avoid using made-up titles like “Wordsmith” or “Rockstar” (unless you’re truly looking for a band member). It can also help you create an organization chart to maximize clarity on communication and collaboration flow as well as where the new role fits into the company.


The summary at the beginning of the job description covers a few elements. For internal stakeholders, the summary identifies how this role impacts the company’s overall mission. It aligns everyone around the expectations for success for each role as well as how the role will contribute to the higher mission of the business.

“This overview of one-to-four sentences should include a description of the job’s major function, how it contributes to larger company objectives and why it’s important not just to the company, but to society as a whole,” wrote CIO.

For external stakeholders, the summary section of the job description is your opportunity to communicate your company’s value proposition, which is an important part of your employer brand. Try to avoid using jargon or over-the-top language; instead, focus on your company’s key features, values and mission.

Many employers make the mistake of creating a long list of requirements; when, in reality, there’s a key difference between requirements and preferences.


The responsibilities section outlines the day-to-day activities of the role. This section should focus on the big picture. Keep the listed job functions limited to seven bullets and spend more time describing how the position can contribute to key business objectives. For job candidates, sentences such as, “Contribute toward the marketing team’s goal of X% growth this year” or “Contribute market analysis to help us launch X new products by the end of 2022” can help a candidate picture how they would approach the role without too much instruction from you and your managers.

[Read more: 3 Strategies for Writing a Great Job Description]

Requirements and preferences

Requirements and preferences are those skills and experiences that an employee will need to perform well in the role. Many employers make the mistake of creating a long list of requirements; when, in reality, there’s a key difference between requirements and preferences.

“Requirements are the ‘must-haves’ for the applicant to get the job; preferences are the ‘nice to have’ qualities,” wrote the experts at

By conflating requirements and preferences, many businesses miss out on attracting perfectly well-qualified candidates. Research has found that women are unlikely to apply unless they meet 100% of the requirements. As a result, keep the list of your preferred skills to a minimum.


Finally, make a compelling case for working for your company by outlining your compensation and benefits. Include elements such as healthcare, 401k, on-site childcare, flexible working and a salary range. Keep in mind that not all benefits need to be monetary. Growth opportunities and training are sought after by many candidates. Flexible hours or the option to work remotely are also becoming more popular. As a small business, you may be offering the chance for someone to wear many hats; entrepreneurial-minded candidates may appreciate a role in which they can learn many skills at once.

Your job description can also help your HR team build its benefits scheme. Whether or not you choose to advertise the salary, going through the job description writing process helps with budgeting, planning your resources and negotiating benefits with third-party vendors.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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